Friday, July 13, 2012

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) (Movie Review)

    Following the high marks of not just one, but two critically acclaimed films in a franchise is no easy task, but somehow 2017’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” escaped the curse of the mediocre third installment and became yet another smash hit for the series. It’s been widely regarded by both fans and critics as the best of the new Ape trilogy, and possibly the first in the franchise to truly match the original 1968 classic. Weather this film surpasses the original “Planet of the Apes” can certainly be debated, but one thing that can’t be argued is that the two-thousand-teens Ape series completely surpasses the first Ape film series of the 1970’s by a mile. 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” brought the series back to form, 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” went the extra mile, and now 2017’s "War for the Planet of the Apes" brings everything together with great finality. This really is one of those rare perfect film trilogies where every film is consistently good, and there’s a solid beginning, middle and end to the story. While I personally still like “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” the most, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is undeniably a worthy sequel and can be labeled as one of the better installments in the Ape legacy.

     One little detail I loved right off the bat was that in the opening, the 20th Century Fox logo was colorfully set to drum-beats from the film. We then get texts that recap the state of events from the past two films, how they lead into “War”, and the text themselves colorfully highlight the titles of each instalment, which may be corny, but I love it. Basically, when the Simien Flu first broke out, it killed off most humans, and increased intelligence in the apes. Now, following an attack lead by the evil ape Koba, military forces are retaliating with magnum force. While Caesar, ruler of the apes succeeded in defeating Koba, he couldn’t stop the war from ragging between his kind and the remaining humans who aim the re-concur the planet. After a surprise attack from a rouge human colonel, both Caesar’s son and wife are tragically killed, which lead Caesar on a new quest to seek revenge against their killer. Over time, Caesar becomes more heartless, his ape followers fear that he’s becoming just like Koba, and Caesar himself begins having ghostly visions of Koba coming to him. As their journey continues, the apes find an orphaned little girl who’s mysteriously lost her ability to speak. It’s soon revealed that the Simien Flu has now mutated and is de-humanizing all the people, to the point where they can no longer remember how to talk. This turn of events only makes the humans all the more desperate to wipe out the apes, leaving Caesar with an ethical debate to either pursue vengeance, or lead the other apes to freedom from their oppressors.

      For the first hour and a half I was absolutely in love with this film. I said in my last review of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” that I’d be happy watching a film focusing solely on these apes, with no human characters at all, because the apes themselves are just so much more fascinating to watch. In this sequel, that’s mostly the case because all the attention is on Caesar, his ape followers and their journey. In fact, the mute girl is really the only human hero of the whole film. Once again, I loved being with these ape characters, I loved their separate community, I loved their interactions, which are mostly told through visuals and little dialogue. I love the individual personalities of these different ape characters, I love the body language, and they can surprisingly convey a lot of real human emotion. The motion capture effects for these apes are easily the best of these films thus far. They look stunning, with excellent detail, and even though I knew they were creatures crafted in a computer, they just felt so real. Andy Serkis makes his third and final appearance as Caesar, and he once again kicks it out of the park. Obviously, he’ll never win an Oscar for his work, but he really should, as there’s so much more to this performance than simply his motion captured body movement. His inflections, and his tone of voice carry so much wait that he just commands the screen with a real presence.

     The other ape performances deserve a lot of credit too, and many stand apart as memorable characters in their own way. I’ve always loved the orangutan named Maurice, as he’s been the gentle soul of the group, Caesars closest friend and the only other character to appear (at least physically) in all three films. I especially love the sound design for Maurice, which is just the gentlest deep ape sound I’ve ever heard. This film introduces us to a new ape character named Bad Ape, and basically he’s in this film just for comedic relief. This character could have stood out as an announce, but he’s so unavoidably lovable that he makes for a mostly welcomed presence in an otherwise depressing war drama. At last we have the little mute girl named Nova, which is a call back to the grown mute woman from the original classic. Personally, it felt like unneeded fan serves to give this child the exact same name as the original female lead, but putting that aside, I absolutely loved the inclusion of this character. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something touching about seeing these war hungry apes take this little girl in as one of their own and form their own distinct connections with her. Honestly, some of my favorite moments in the whole film are the little moments between this girl and the different ape characters. They have cute moments, sad moments, touching moments and they give the film this warm aura that I never felt in any of the previous movies.

      Now I should note that for a movie titled “War for the Planet of the Apes”, there is actually very little “War” on display. Honestly, I think this film has less action sequences then the five previous ape’s movies, which really isn’t a problem, so long as the movie is good. It's just that War doesn’t really fit with the title at all. There’s a thrilling battle sequence at the beginning of the movie, which sets the tone, but then all the other action is pushed to the background. This was a very bold move focusing more on characters, internal drama, emotional highlights and for the most part it pays off. Like I said, I loved the first hour and a half of this movie, but then things change once we segue into the films final act. The movie doesn’t exactly go downhill, and it’s by no means bad, it’s just that from this point on I was no longer loving the experience the way I initially was. At this point in the film, Caesar along with the majority of his apes are taken prisoner by the military, and become slaves forced to make a giant wall. This is also where the rogue Colonel played by Woody Harrelson takes center stage as a main character. While the performance is solid, I can’t help but feel that there’s a deeper laired antagonist that’s buried under a cliched, tough soldier stereotype.

     It’s hard to describe, but there’s something lifeless about this prison camp setting. Before hand, I felt like I was going on a journey with these fascinating characters, I was seeing things explained though visuals and it just felt like we were building to something special. All that changes at the camp, as things are now explained in long winded dialog scenes, the characters aren’t really being developed, and the film no longer feels like it’s building, instead it’s just in limbo. Also, when compared to the previous two films in this trilogy, I felt that both “Rise” and “Dawn” had their own distinct identities that felt different from anything else I’d experienced on film. “War” certainly begins with a unique identity, as it focuses solely on the ape characters, but this camp setting robbed the film of its uniqueness. Now it just felt like a hybrid of other films like “The Ten Commandments”, “Apocalypse Now”, “Schindler's List”, and “The Great Escape”. It’s also at this point that I felt the visual symbolism was getting a little too on the nose. There’s some heavy-handed slavery imagery, and obvious religious metaphors, most notably is Caesar being tied up to this post with his arms stretched out to resemble Jesus Christ on the cross.  

      At the end, the apes make their daring escape from the camp, but Caesar stays behind for one last confrontation with the Colonel. Upon visiting his courters, Caesar discovers that the Colonel has been infected by the Simien Flu, has lost the ability to speak, and in his last moments shoots himself in the head, which rob Caesar of his own personal vengeance. Then a second group of humans launch an attack on the camp, which could be regarded as the final battle, but it’s mostly a backdrop to the apes escaping the prison. There’s some apes allied with the humans, who up till this point have been enemies, but during the attack they aide Caesar at the coast of their own lives. At last, Caesar leads his clan of apes to the land of milk and honey, where they can begin anew. Unfortunately for Caesar, he suffered fatal wounds during the escape and quietly passes away, just as his followers reach safe haven. It’s another religious metaphor akin to Moses, who lead the slaves out of Egypt to the promised land, but due to his sins, he could not enter it himself.   

         Being completely honest, of the three new ape movies, I loved “War for the Planet of the Apes” the least, but it’s still a strong conclusion to the trilogy. The effects are more stunning then ever before, it leaves an emotional impact, and there’s even a poignant narrative to the conclusion of the story. I can’t imagine watching this film as frequently as the previous ape movies, but that’s just due to personal taste. I wasn’t too fond of the films final act, and I could have used a little more kick for a closing chapter, but the film still dose everything a final chapter should do. It brings finality to Caesar’s journey, and I think Fox should just stop with the apes films for some time. This was just the right way a series should close, and the trilogy as a whole was a perfect revitalization for a long dead franchise.

I give “War for the Planet of the Apes” 4 stars out of 5.      

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) (Movie Review)

      After the smashing success of “Rise of the Plant of the Apes”, a sequel seemed unavoidable, but I honestly had no idea if this would be another cash grab sequel or something really special that could surpass the quality of its predecessor. Thankfully, the 2014 sequel titled “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” completely surpassed my mild expectations and turned out to be a really good sequel indeed. It’s not just better than the last film, it’s easily my favorite entry in the whole series and I think it has the potential to go down in film history as one of the great classic Sci-Fi sequels like “Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. This is just another perfect example of how an old and deflated franchise can still stand proud, tall and alive after so many failures.

      The plot of the movie takes some inspiration from the 1973 sequel “Battle for the Planet of the Apes”, but with enough new ideas to make it stand apart. The movie begins with a recap of the events from “Rise of the Plant of the Apes”, regarding the ape rebellion and the virus that’s wiped out most of the planets population. By the way, this opening scene is awesome and helps set the tone with some captivating visuals. Almost a decade has past sense then and now human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the ape Caesar rules his own peaceful Kingdome where apes have built their own civilization in the wilderness. Not far away is a small town full of surviving humans that need power and electricity to survive. The only thing that can save them is a hydroelectric dam that’s deep within ape territory. A small team of humans go in to make a temporary peace treaty with the apes to restore power to their homes. Caesar agrees to help the humans in the struggle, hoping that in some way this small action can lead into a new area of peace without further bloodshed. As you’d expect, things don’t go well for either party as another ape named Koba betrays Caesar and leads his ape army in a revolt against the humans, which leads into global civil war.   

       Just like its predecessor, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” elevates itself a notch above mindless entertainment. While there’s certainly thrilling action segments, the movie takes it’s time establishing the characters, building tension, and raising deep questions which allow the audience to think just enough while still being very entertained at the excitement of seeing a machine gun wilding ape on a hours charging at a tank. Yes, the action scenes are riveting spectacles, but there’s just enough intelligence and emotional resonance that help balance that out. With all those stupid, over blown and brainless “Transformers” movies that come out all the time, it makes me feel very pleased to see filmmakers but real effort and care into a Sci-Fi blockbuster such as this. The build up in the first half of the movie is fantastic as your dreading a possible war on the horizon, and the story had enough smart twists and turns that kept it from getting too predictable. The effects for the most part are all very impressive, even getting an Oscar nod, but there are some select moments when some things look a little too cartoony, like this one shot of a heard of dear that are being hunted down by the apes. 

       One of the first Things I loved about this movie right off the bat were the apes and their culture. I’m so glad that they weren’t just monsters for the humans to fight, their intellectuals, they have feelings, and they can reason with one another. I also like that they only speak every once in a while, most of the time they speak through sign language, which is great. Honestly, I could watch these ape characters all day in their civilization and be perfectly satisfied. Of course Andy Serkis returns in the lead role of Caesar and delivers another Oscar worthy performance, even though he’s a motion capture actor. The character of Caesar has never been more awesome then in this movie. Every time Caesar’s on screen he just commands your attention, and personally I think he belongs among some of the great iconic Sci-Fi characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator or Peter Weller’s “Robocop”. 

     The human characters are all good too, even though there admittedly less memorable then many of the other human characters from the series. Never the less, the actors give solid performances, the humans have great chemistry with the apes and the main human character named Malcolm is compelling enough to care for. Garry Oldman plays the leader of the human survival group, and once again, I’m so glad the writers didn’t make him the stereotypical human bad guy. This is a character we actually get to feel sympathy for, and he’s compassionate enough to take a peaceful wrought before resorting to violent actions against the apes. Even though Garry Oldman’s part in the movie is small, he still plays it like he’s trying to win an Oscar.

     Even the villain ape named Koba is really good, and easily the best villain of the whole series. This character was featured back in “Rise of the Plant of the Apes” as a victim on scientific experiments, and now he’s out for vengeance. While he’s a monstrous beast that dose awful things, his motivations are perfectly understandable. It doesn’t excuse his actions, but at least he isn’t a one note bad guy the same way General Thade was in the 2001 “Planet of the Apes” remake. At the climax of the film, Koba challenges Caesar to a dual for leadership of all the apes, and it’s a riveting finally.      

     Overall, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a fantastic follow up to its predecessor, and even surpasses it with a consistently engaging premise, lots of high stake action and fantastic characters ... both human and ape alike. It’s also very refreshing that this film doesn’t lose itself with one too many nods to the original the same way the previous movies have. It’s a sequel that can stand on its own, and just like the original “Planet of the Apes” movie, it can easily stand the test of time as an ambitious, yet deeply exciting Sci-Fi achievement.     

I give “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” a strong 4 ½ stars out of 5. 

The End

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) (Movie Review)

    The 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes” was supposed to be a jumpstart to a second series and more sequels were supposed to be made. However, that film turned out to be such a critical disaster that all other sequels were canceled. But 20th Century Fox still saw a lot of profit in the franchise and decided to reboot it in a completely new faction. The end result is the 2011 movie titled “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and it’s easily one of the best films in the entire series, in fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the best Sci-Fi’s to be released in years. Unlike its 2001 predecessor, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a much smarter film that doesn’t really on cheap B movie charms or lots of action scenes, in fact there’s hardly any action in the movie at all until the climax. The film also serves as an effective warning story about the dangers of science and how a medical breakthrough may seem like mankind’s greatest accomplishment, when in reality it becomes our downfall.

     The story goes like this, James Franco plays a scientist named William Rodman, who believes to have discovered a cure for Alzheimer’s. He tests his drug on a female ape that was with child, the mother was tragically killed but the effects of the drug pass on to the infant, which Dr. William takes in his care and names him Caesar. The two form a strong friendship but after an unfortunate accident, Caesar is taken to an animal control center where he’s locked away with other apes. After spending some time there, Caesar becomes a leader among them, gives them the same brain drugs given to his mother and leads them in a rebellion. It’s almost like a remake of “Conquest of the Planet of the apes”, right down to the ape Caesar being the ape character who leads his fellow apes in a rebellion against human kind. However, there are some significant changes in this film that makes it stand well on its own, in fact this movie doesn’t even feel like its part of the same franchise. Everything feels so different and so expertly crafted that you’d almost swear it’s from another series entirely. The apes in this movie don’t even talk, with the exception of Caesar who briefly speaks.

    Even though this is a much smarter movie then many of the previous installments, it still has one factor that might seem a little too gimmicky for some. Just like with the 2001 remake, this film constantly makes reference to the original film, which I honestly think is pretty cool but it can be distracting for other people.  One of the chimps being tested on is called “Bright Eyes”, which is what the apes called Taylor in the first film. There’s one scene when Caesar is building a model of the statue of liberty, an obvious nod to the famous statue of Liberty ending of from the original. Some of the games that the apes are tested with in the labs are very similar to the intelligence games seen in “Escape from the Planet of the Apes”. There’s an orangutan who’s named Maurice, which is a nice little nod to the actor Maurice Evans who played the evil orangutan from the 1968 classic. Actually, many of the apes in this film are named after characters or actors from the original series. There’s this one bully character played by Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series) who constantly quotes Charlton Hesston’s classic lines, including a moment when he’s spraying all the apes in their cells with a water gun while shouting “It’s a mad house, a mad house!” and naturally, he has to quote the most famous line of them all “Get your filthy paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!” Heck, even his first and last name, Dodge Landon is a reference to the two other astronauts from the first film.

     Now with all of these little references and inside jokes, this movie could have easily been just another campy installment in the series that’s just one big love letter to the original but through some competent writing that focuses more on characters and more importantly on substance, this film succeeded its small expectations and can be viewed as a genuinely good film. First of all, I love the scientific aspects of this film and the example of how dangerous it can be. While the movie doesn’t quiet dive into the realms of really deep or thought-provoking questions, it does at least bring up some important issues. How far should we go to try and perfect something that was never meant to be in our control, can we handle that responsibility, is this human progress or are we just opening Pandora’s Box. Its issues like this that elevate this movie above just another campy Sci-Fi, and my favorite aspect about this film by far is its completely different perspective of the wild animal on the loose franchise.

    In most animal attack movies, the wild animal is always the monster that needs to be killed in order for the humans to live, but in this film, it’s not so one-sided. Despite what you may think from seeing the trailer, the apes don’t try to dominate humans, there goal is simply to liberate themselves from the captivity of human kind. In fact, they try their best not to kill anyone, they only kill in self-defense and even in that respect there’s nothing pleasant about it. There’s a moment when Caesar defends himself against the bully character, which unintentionally takes his life and you can tell from the reaction on Caesar’s face that it really hurt him deep down to take a life. As an interesting result, you find yourself cheering for the apes. Even though you naturally don’t want to see the humans trampled underfoot, this film really gets you to care for the ape characters, and it just hurts you to see them getting beaten with bats and clubs. 

    The performances in this film are all very good, James Franco delivers a genuine and honest performance as the good doctor and the remaining cast all play their parts quiet well. But the star who completely steals the show surprisingly isn’t one of human actors, instead it’s CGI actor Andy Serkis in the role of the ape Caesar who keeps you completely captivated throughout the entire picture. Now a CGI actor is a performer who wears a blue suit that computer generated effects will cover up later, almost like giving an actor makeup that’s not physical makeup. 

Andy Serkis is no stranger to this craft and has played all kinds of memorable CGI characters including Golem from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and is also known for playing King Kong in the 2005 remake. Now it may seem strange to give so much credit to an actor that’s basically one big special effect but so much character and personality come from his simple body movements and posturing that it feels like a genuinely human performance, in fact many people suggested that he be the first CGI actor in history to be nominated for the best actor award. Most of the remaining apes in the film are played by other talented CGI actors and it’s a unique change from the makeup that where so accustomed to seeing in these films. I was a little skeptical going in because I always prefer makeup or puppets and I didn’t think I’d get that much realism from a bunch of CGI apes. To my surprise, they looked really good for the most part and I actually began to forget that they were CG creatures. There are some obvious CGI moments like when we see Caesar as an infant but the fully-grown Caesar looked very believable, as did many other shots involving herds of apes.

     The action in this film is nothing jaw dropping, but the movie draws you in so well that everything feels really big. The passing of this film is especially good, nothing feels rushed and it certainly isn’t boring. Just like the original movie, not much is happening on the face of this film, in fact the apes don’t even make their big escape until the tail end of the film. But the characters, story and tone hold your attention so well that you don’t even pay attention to the films lack of big specials. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its power house moments, the climax on the Golden Gate Bridge is riveting and will certainly please anyone wanting some action. My only complaint was the way the film ended, there was so much build up as to what was going to happen in the end, but then the apes all reach their destination in the woods and the movie just seems to stop. It’s like, "What the heck", you’re stopping it right when things got really intense and interesting? We also reach a plot point that some deadly gas got loose from the lab and have begun to infect humans across the globe. The apes are immune to it, so this naturally sets the stage for them to become the dominate species on the planet without the need to go into battle.               

    Overall, this was a very good movie that took an old, deflated franchise and gave it new life again. Most people would still call the original the absolute best, but personally, I think this this one is better. Rupert Wyatt’s direction is just so precise, stylish and everything else just feels so professionally handled. More than anything, I love that while this film has its share of impressive special effects, this doesn’t feel like a big special effects picture, it feels like a genuinely good film, with characters that hold your attention and a story that keeps you guessing what the outcome might be. It’s the kind of film that I hope Hollywood would make more of, something that doesn’t go straight for non-stop action and visual effects. Now the movie isn’t a landmark masterpiece or anything like that, but it is still very well constructed, delivers a rich warning on the dangers of science and offers an interesting new perspective regarding the wild animal on the loose franchise. 

I give “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” 4 stars.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Planet of the Apes (2001) (Movie Review)

    Almost 30 years after the sequel “Battle of the Planet of the Apes” concluded the "Apes" franchise in 1973, there was a remake of “Planet of the Apes” in 2001, which brought the series back to the theater. Around the mid 90’s, Hollywood had tried to remake just about any classic that would probably make them a lot of money, and even though remakes have been around for ages, it’s the current generation that’s really trying to exploit any classic they can. This remake in-particular is often regarded as one of the lesser remakes to come out in recent years. Personally, I have a soft spot for this film, as it was the movie that introduced me to the franchise at a young age. I was a young third grade student at the time of this films release, I had no idea it was a remake of any sorts, and all I could pay attention to was how awesome the advertising looked. Truthfully, I don’t think this film is nearly as bad as other modern remakes that have come and gone. It certainly isn’t as good or as smart as the original “Planet of the Apes”, but in all honesty, I find this one a little more fun to watch.

    The movie begins with an awesome opening credit sequence, with a foreboding overtone, eerier music, and lots of cool imagery. The story begin on a deep-space science station, where astronauts are training apes to fly shuttle pods. It doesn’t take long for me to get suckered into all these simple, Sci-Fi charms, as the sets are cool, and the visual effects are impressive without going too over bored. Forgive me for getting a little off-topic here, but there’s something that I quickly want to address. So many Sci-Fi’s today are so bloated with over the top special effects, and over the top action scenes, but it’s such a breath of fresh air to see a film like this, where it’s a spectacle to look at, but in a simple way. The design for the space station is cool, but it’s not over blown with too much stuff to look at. For whatever it’s worth, I hope more blockbusters take this simple, impressive approach, rather than trying to be the biggest, most explosive Sci-Fi ever made.

   Back to the plot, there’s an astronaut named Leo who’s tired of sending chimps out to study space anomalies, and after one chimp disappears in an electromagnetic storm, he takes it upon himself to retrieve his ape, and study this mysteries phenomenon. The storm then triggers a wormhole that sends him thousands of years into the future, where the planet is over run by apes, and the humans are being trampled underfoot. There's a subtle visual metaphor with the crashed ship resembling an egg, as if to say our hero is being re-born in a new world. Just like in the original, our stranded astronaut makes friends with two apes, escapes the ape city with a small group of humans, and ventures across the planet into a forbidden area, where they learn how all of this came to be. Meanwhile, an evil ape named Thade is determined to hunt him down, and kill him to ensure that no other ape learns the true origins of the planet.    
     As you can tell, the plot is similar to the original, but there are significant changes in this version. First of all, the humans talk in this movie, and aren’t the same mute creatures from the original. These humans can also organize their own culture, and even armies. The apes on the other hand still intelligent and can talk, but they also behave like animals. They leap around, crawl all over things, make strange monkey sounds, and always explode in crazy, animalistic states of rage. It doesn’t make any logical sense when the apes argue that their superior to humans, because the humans are just as smart, if not smarter than them. Remember how I said that the original was a smart film with thought provoking questions regarding our culture ... well, this film is the polar opposite. It’s far sillier, with more of a man versus monster story, and lots of B movie overtones. In this regard, I can slightly appreciate this remake. Anyone wanting a smart, logical, thought-provoking Sci-fi can watch the original, and anyone wanting a fun, action packed Sci-Fi can watch this instead ... so they both balance out.  
    Now that’s not to say that this film doesn’t have some big problems either and one of the most obvious is the lead character Leo. He’s bland and dull but he’s also a really selfish jerk. Throughout, most of this film, he just wants to get back home and I honestly can’t blame him for that but at the same time, he gives no thought or concern for anyone else on this planet, he doesn’t really care about the situation that the humans are in, he doesn’t really care that he has the capability to help the others in this crises, even when the ape characters try to talk to him and understand him better, he just brushes them off and gives direct, even harsh responses to them. Now there is a moment later in the film when he acknowledges that he’s been a selfish jerk that only thinks of himself but it comes so late in the film and “Planet of the Apes” isn’t supposed to be a redemption story in the first place, so why bother make his character like that. 

    The remaining characters are either okay or just forgettable, Helena Bonham Carter in-particular dose a good job in the role of the lead female chimpanzee but her character is only lead by the nose and only occasionally offers something significant to the film.The late Michael Clarke Duncan also plays a big, tough Gorilla and is honestly the best character in the film, but that’s simply because Michael Clarke Duncan is the perfect actor to play a mighty ape soldier. The villain Thade is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he isn’t nearly as sophisticated as the enemy from the first film and is far wilder, like a savage monster. However, his makeup is great and Tim Roth dose a good job in the role but at times, this character is just a little too over the top for the films own good.  

   There’s lots of nods and tributes to the first movie that might annoy some people but others may enjoy these little in-jokes. For example, there’s a scene when one of the gorillas say’s “Take your filthy hands off of me, you damn dirty human”, which is a throwback to Charlton Hesston’s classic line. Speaking of Charlton Hesston, he makes a brief cameo in this film as an elder ape who says he “damn’s all humans to hell”, gee that line also sounds familiar.  

    I suppose I should mention that this film was directed by Tim Burton of all people, who just doesn’t fit with this kind of movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tim Burton's movies but he’s more of a surreal, innovative director, not one who dose big budget Sci-Fi blockbusters. But he uses many of his trademark quality’s, Danny Elfman dose the music and it’s the first of his movies the feature Helena Bonham Carter, who would later star in every one of his movies that followed after this. On a personal note, even though none of Tim Burton’s movies aren’t directly connected to each other, I always like to believe that all his films took place in the exact same universe. “Planet of the Apes” unfortunately renders that statement impossible.      

    One great thing that can be said for this film is Rick Baker’s stellar ape makeup. The original had some great makeup too, but in this film, the detail and aesthetics are so precise and cool that you honestly begin to forget that there people in costume. The action is exciting and fun to watch but it's nothing jaw dropping either. None of the action will blow you mind but it’s just enough to keep you entertained. The climax is also quiet good, with plenty of explosions and brawls with armies of apes fighting armies of humans, a most of it is very practical. It's far better then the final battle in "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" and leads to a relatively strong final dual between the hero and villain. 

    Unfortunately, the ending is one of the stupidest I’ve ever seen and that’s quite an accomplishment. (Spoiler Alert) At first it doesn’t seem too bad, the apes and humans make peace with one another, Leo is excepted as a friend among-st them and even an attractive young girl has fallen in love with him. But for some reason that’s not good enough for him, so he leaves the planet in a functional shuttle pod in hopes to find his way home. Too bad for him because he gets caught in the storm again, which sends him to an alternate reality Earth, where apes live in Washington and at the Lincoln memorial, the statue of Abraham Lincoln is now Ape-raham Lincoln. Remember how the first movie ended with the frightening image of a sacred landmark like the Statue of Liberty in ruins, well, this is just plain stupid. 

        Overall, this isn’t a good movie by any means, but I don’t think that this is all that terrible either. It has its problems and stupid scenes but it still has it's worthwhile entertainment, plenty of B movie charms that easily win me over, some note worthy production qualities and for all the films short comings it doesn't ruin the series.  Plus, the next movie is so good that this movie just doesn't mater, but I'll talk about that next time. 

I give the 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes” ... 3 stars.